What happens if you don’t have a will in South Carolina?

The laws contained in Title 62, the Probate Code, of the South Carolina Code of Laws will determine how your estate will be divided.  In simplified form, the division of your estate will occur as follows if you do not have a will:

  1. Your surviving spouse gets everything if you have no children.
  2. If you are not married but leave behind a child or children, your children get everything in equal shares if you have no spouse.
  3. If you leave behind both a spouse and a child or children, your surviving spouse gets half of your estate, and your children split the other half in equal shares.
  4. If you do not leave behind a spouse or a child or children, your estate may go to your parents or possibly to your siblings depending on who survives you after your death.

A will allows you to decide to whom your estate will be left, with certain exceptions.  For example, if you are separated from your spouse but not yet divorced, despite your wishes to write your estranged spouse out of your will, your surviving, estranged spouse can still make a claim against your estate because you are still lawfully married in the eyes of the law.  A will also allows you the opportunity to name a personal representative to carry out the administration of your estate.  Without a will, an heir will have to be appointed by the Probate Court Judge to be your personal representative, and that person may not be the person that you wanted to serve in that role.

When should you have a will prepared?  The best advice is to not put off doing this until later because later may be too late.  If you were a married parent with a minor child or children, you would not want to pass away and leave your surviving spouse in co-ownership of your real property with your children.  That can create a financial headache and a frustrating process when your spouse decides to refinance the home or even sell it.  The cost of having a will prepared is certainly less than the associated costs of court proceedings to protect the interests of your minor child or children in a real property transaction after you are gone.   Want to know more? Call Harrison White, P.C. at 864.585.5100.

The posts on this website/blog are published as a service to our clients and friends. They are intended to provide general information only and should not be construed to be formal legal advice regarding any specific situation and should not be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship. Success in the past does not indicate the likelihood of success in any future representation.

Blog post by attorney Ryan McCarty. Click here to learn more about Ryan.